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The longer the crystals are in the sediment, the more radiation is trapped.Before the crystals were buried in the sediment, they were carried along by rivers or wind.This allows the dating of much older and smaller samples but at a far higher cost.Although, organic materials as old as 100,000 years potentially can be dated with AMS, dates older than 60,000 years are still rare.The method that shines laser light is called optically stimulated luminescence (OSL).
This measures how long certain minerals have been exposed to natural radiation.
The commonest minerals dated using this method are zircon and apatite.
Zircon is common in volcanic ash, and its crystals contain very small amounts of the uranium-238 isotope.
The longer the crystal had been buried, the brighter the luminescence.
When heat is shone on the sample, the dating method is called thermoluminescence.